5 reasons not to use your work email for personal business

Most jobs come with an email address. Usually it’s your name + the website domain address of your company. But just because it has your name on it, that doesn’t mean it’s yours.

It's tempting to start using this convenient new address everywhere.  Need to sign up for Netflix or Amazon?  Why not use your work email account?  Everyone does it.  There are probably hundreds of thousands of .gov email addresses that have been used on Netflix alone.  Here are some reasons not to use your work email as a personal mail account:

  1. If you leave your job, it can be difficult to recover an account.

    You may eventually decide to leave your current job.  When that happens, you will lose access to your work email account.  If you've used it to sign up for a site like Amazon, you may find that if you forget your password, you might have a difficult time recovering. Many password reset requests go to your registered email account.

  2. If you work for the Federal or State Government, your emails may be subject to Freedom of Information Act Requests.  Private individuals could have their email become part of a corporate lawsuit.

    If you work for the government, your emails are potentially public record.  If a citizen files a FOIA request, they would possibly be able to see your private correspondence as well as what accounts you have set up online. The same goes for a private individual with a corporate email address.  If the company gets sued, your email could become part of the discovery process in the lawsuit.  That means that your private emails could be turned over to attorneys and become part of a public record. That could be pretty embarrassing.

  3. Your boss can see your company emails.

    In the United States, you generally don't have an expectation of privacy when it comes to your work email address.  If your company has a reason to look through your company email, they probably can.  You'd never even know.  You don't want your boss knowing where you shop or what you do on your free time.

  4. Your email address is the door into your private life.

    You need to have an email address to sign into social media accounts.  You even need an email address as a backup for other another email address. This is a good reason to use strong passwords.  It's also a reason to never sign up for personal or private accounts with an email account you don't own.  If your work email is tied to your social presence, someone who takes over your company mail account could use that access to gain control of your social media accounts.

  5. Corporate email accounts are easy targets for spam and viruses.

    Corporate email addresses are easy to find.  They are usually listed right on the company website.  Scammers and hackers gather these email addresses and try to exploit them.  They try to hack your password or send phishing attempts that will expose your email account to the hacker.  From there, they have access to your personal data.

Keeping a private, anonymous email address through Microsoft's Outlook.com or Google's Gmail is the best way to keep your work life and your personal life separate.  Your boss can't see your private emails, hackers are less likely to come across your address randomly, and you'll keep ownership of the account